COVID-19: Crowds, minor infractions on first working day after social restrictions imposed in Jakarta
JAKARTA: Despite so-called “large-scale social restrictions” being imposed in Jakarta, streets in the Indonesian capital appeared to be fairly crowded on Monday (Apr 13), with those working in essential services thronging the thoroughfares.
The city implemented the restrictions last Friday as the number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise across the country.
But as it was the Good Friday and Easter holiday weekend, the city was virtually desolate.
On Monday, when people working in essential services returned to work, things were very different.
Under the restrictions, offices and businesses were closed or needed to have their employees work from home. However, government offices, construction sites, banks, hospitals, markets and restaurants and other essential services are still allowed to operate, including the media.
A commuter, Ari Wibisono, shared his journey to work on his instagram account on Monday, showing that some streets in the city centre were busy as usual.
Traffic in the industrial areas of Kalideres and Cengkareng in West Jakarta also seemed busy.
“Traffic from Kalideres to Cengkareng was heavy and reduced to a crawl. Activities are like normal and the large-scale social restrictions implemented have no effect,” Twitter user Evando wrote.
“If this continues without any harsh or strict sanctions, the spread of COVID-19 will worsen and be prolonged.”
“Before the pandemic, I could spend from 90 minutes to two hours stuck in traffic to get to work. But (on Monday) morning, my commute to work only took me 45 minutes,” the banker said.
COMMUTERS PILE-UP AT TRAIN STATIONS
As part of the social restrictions in Jakarta until Apr 23, the government decided to slash the capacity of public transportation. This led to a pile-up of commuters at the stations.
Train operator Kereta Commuter Indonesia (KCI) reduced the operational hours of its trains and limited the number of passengers onboard a given train car to 60 people.
The operator also imposed a limit on the number of passengers allowed inside the stations, based on the maximum number of people allowed on the incoming train at any one time.
But with so many people working in essential services residing in the Jakarta suburbs, the decision caused massive pile-ups at several train stations.
At Bogor train station, some 50km away from the city centre, long queues were observed since dawn on Monday with the lines spilling onto the parking lots and nearby pavements.
“Officials tried to stop the stations’ platform from being overcrowded but in doing so they created long queues and pile-ups at the gates,” Wahyu Cahyono, a computer engineer who works at an internet provider company, told CNA.
Cahyono said he waited for more than an hour before he was allowed inside the station. “People were furiously shouting at the officials. They were all angry because the policy completely backfired.”
The engineer said while officials tried to limit the number of passengers at Bogor, the train was packed by the time it reached Jakarta. “Other stations along the way also had similar pile-ups. Officials were quickly overwhelmed and they had no choice but to let people in,” he recounted.
“So the effort was completely useless.”
KCI spokesperson Anne Purba was reported as saying by Indonesian media that the company will not revise its policy, as it was required to implement the rules based on what was spelt out on the social restrictions.
“(The pile-up) only occurred this morning. Later in the day, it was quiet again,” she noted.
"As (train) operator, we are doing what the policy on large-scale social restrictions requires us to do. We can see for ourselves that many people are still working, so we are hoping that the government makes sure that (offices and businesses) comply with the policy and thus people’s mobility will be limited.”
The restrictions also required people to wear face masks whenever they venture out of their homes. Meanwhile, cars must have no more than three people inside.
On Monday, the Jakarta Metro Police launched raids along several major roads to ensure people adhere to the rules.
The Jakarta Traffic Police noted on Twitter that not everyone complied with the policy.
In one post, police officers in Kamal area of West Jakarta were shown reprimanding a truck driver and two passengers sitting in a single row, an offence as there can be only one person occupying a row.
Meanwhile, a separate post showed South Jakarta officers stopping a motorcyclist who was carrying a boy without a helmet and a mask at the Republika intersection in Pejaten area.
By law, violators could face up to one year in prison and/or up to 100 million rupiah (US$6,381) fine.
However, Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus said police will first give people warning and persuade them to abide by the restrictions.
“(Arrests and fines) are the last option (for police officers). For example if we stop a car for having too many passengers and the driver scolds (our officers) for it, then we will take (legal) actions,” he told Kompas.
City officials also raided restaurants and shopping malls since the start of the restrictions.
Under the policy, restaurants can only open for takeaways and deliveries. However, the city’s public order agency revealed that some restaurants still served dine-in customers.
The restaurants were either fined or reprimanded. In one raid, the seats were confiscated.
On Monday evening, Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan noted that people were still leaving their homes and travelling to work. This is because some non-essential businesses continued to tell their employees to go to work.
"They are violating the large-scale social restrictions order," Mr Baswedan told a press conference. "We will take tough measures (against the companies) be it a suspension of their business permit or a revocation."